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17 Oct 2010

People’s Union for Democratic Rights is deeply disturbed by the news of fake encounter which has been passed off as a real encounter by the Chhattisgarh police in which two Maoists, Nagesh and Tarabai, were shot dead sometime between 14th and 15th October 2010

Media reports (TOI, 16/10/10) state that the duo were killed when security forces tried to stop them from firing. A third escaped in the nearby forested area. The IG (Durg Range) claimed that the incident happened near Shivpur village, 45 kms from Raipur.

Contrary to the IG’s claim about the encounter, local residents of Jamul, a semi urban area adjoining the Bhilai industrial area, have an entirely different version to tell. According to them, the bodies were found lying on 15th early morning close to a railway over bridge at Jamul. Moreover, there wasn’t significant police presence around the bodies. The number of police personnel started increasing only after 5 a.m., almost an hour after local boys first spotted the bodies.

The ‘discovery’ of the bodies by local residents, the lack of police presence at that time, the fact that residents had not heard any gunshots in the intervening night, raise several questions:

  1. Why were the bodies found near Jamul railway over-bridge, a good two kilometers away from Shivpur village, the supposed site of the incident, according to the IG, RK Vij?
  2. Where exactly did the ‘encounter’ happen? Given that the residents did not hear any gunshots, the previous night, where were the two killed?
  3. What is the sequence of events which led to the death of the two Maoists? Till now there isn’t a clear coherent story as to how the duo was killed. The versions range from the police having prior information regarding a secret meeting in a local orchard (‘kinnu garden’), to hotly pursuing them, to the rather bizarre version that the Maoists suddenly opened fire and the police fired in self defense and the version that the couple was in Jamul to strike a deal for purchase of ammunition.
  4. Equally, the police story that a third accomplice ‘escaped’ into the forested area is improbable as the forested area near the bodies is only a fledgling ‘kinnu’ garden, which cannot really pass itself as a ‘forest’.

PUDR is apprehensive that by ‘planting’ the bodies near urban working class localities, the police may try to harass residents for information. With the Chhattisgarh police talking of taking on the "Urban Network of Naxalites", such strategic ‘encounters’ in urban places can become convenient ways for harassing ‘inconvenient’ activists. The fact that the area has a very strong and militant working class movement under the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (Mazdoor Karyakarta Committee) against the Swiss multinational cement giant Holcim is significant. The organization is an eyesore for big companies and its participation in the anti-displacement movement, campaign for the release of Dr Binayak Sen and against human rights violations of adivasis has earned it the wrath of the State.

Under these circumstances, PUDR demands:

An immediate registration of FIR into the given incident

An immediate inquiry by an independent agency into the incident

Asish Gupta and Moushumi Basu